As the owner of two Chinese Crested dogs, I’ve answered a lot of questions and interpreted a lot of odd looks from people meeting them for the first time. Luckily, I love to talk about my dogs! Here’s what I end up telling people the most.
Yes, they really look like that all the time. Both Mo and JP are the Hairless variety of Chinese Crested, meaning they possess a recessive gene that is expressed by a single coat of hair in varying amounts. Mo is very hairless indeed, with only a sparse amount on his head (crest), feet (socks), and tail (plume). The rest of his body is nothing but soft bare skin.
JP, however, is what Crestie fanciers call a “Hairy Hairless.” He’s still technically hairless, but the gene is not expressed so strongly. He has a much longer, silkier crest and plume than Mo, and grows patchy peach fuzz on his back and sides that never gets longer than an inch or so. I run clippers over his body once a week to keep him looking neat, but it’s not exactly a major grooming operation.
Chinese Cresteds also have a “Powderpuff” variety, which has a long double coat. Both Hairless and Powderpuff dogs can be born in the same litter, because all Hairless dogs carry the Powderpuff gene.
Yes, they get cold in winter. They have less body hair than some people, after all! Right next to the coat rack in our house is a whole hanging row of dog clothes. I’m not one for putting my dog in sundresses or hair bows, but I admit I get really excited over coordinating collars with dog boots with four-legged pajamas (and you better believe they make winter hats just for dogs, too).
Because he’s missing some teeth! The Hairless variety is prone to having fewer developed teeth, as well as often needing existing teeth removed at a relatively early age. (Powderpuffs have totally normal teeth.) At the age of 6, both my dogs have had most of their teeth pulled. They don’t require any different kind of a diet, and both of them have enough molars left to destroy a SmartBone or a pig ear. But because of the missing teeth, JP’s tongue has the tendency to peek from the side of his mouth, especially while he sleeps.
Yes, they’re the “ugly dog” breed. This one always makes me smile. It’s true that several winners of the annual “Ugly Dog Contest” have been Hairless Chinese Cresteds or Crestie/Chihuahua mixes, usually of advanced age.
They’re not actually from China. It’s thought they originated from Africa, but genetic testing suggests they’re related to the Mexican hairless dogs. Either way, Cresties traveled the world on ships as vermin hunters, and the Hairless became popular during plagues – maybe because they have less hair in which disease-carrying fleas can hide!
They’re “Velcro dogs.” I’ve been asked before “so what do they do?” and my answer is… some dogs hunt, some dogs guard, and Chinese Cresteds love. They dote upon their people. Mo in particular can’t stand to see an empty lap, and has been known to hop into a chair with a total stranger and promptly take a nap. If my husband or I leave a room, they’ll always get up and come along, even if it’s just to curl up again in the next room.
Our Cresteds are extremely sensitive to human moods, and absolutely hate it when one of us is upset. Because they’re happy when we’re happy, they’re also quick to learn new behaviors and tricks. Their favorite reward is sleeping on the bed with us, and they love to cuddle under an arm and share the pillow. Our Chinese Cresteds are just fantastic companion dogs!
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